By Bud Sparhawk
Captain Sandels came in during prep. “Falcon,” he said, but softly, as if he didn’t want to disturb the techs working on squeezing me into the bomb casing. I twittered our channel and winked: Kind of busy right now. Something come up?
“No,” the captain responded, again so softly that I knew he definitely didn’t want the techs to overhear. The only reason I could hear him was that my acoustic enhancements were so sensitive that I could hear a mouse fart from a klick away. “I just wanted to wish you luck.”
For making it back? I answered. Not likely.
“That’s brutal,” he replied and I heard his pain. “I thought that, after all we. . .’
I stopped him there. I’m not Falcon; just a revised edition.
“So it’s just goodbye, then?”
Sure. I closed the channel before he could say anything else. What I don’t need now is some damn puzzling reference to a past that no longer concerned me. Better not to dwell on the past. Given humanity’s precarious state, sentiment was dangerous. Besides, I had to concentrate on my scouting mission. We had to learn more about the aliens on the planet below.
I shut everything but the maintenance channel as they oozing the cushioning gel around me. Its plasticity enfolds me in a warm, soft embrace that creeps into every crack and crevice, sealing me off from sight and sound and every sense save an assurance of my own humanity. My form might be much reduced, to be sure, but nevertheless I retain my inherent humanity.
“We’re closing the lid,” the tech reports over the maintenance channel.
It’s time for sleep. Landing will wake me up.